The Week Ahead: More transactions, honors on deck
Hot Stove sizzling with potential free-agent deals, trades; GIBBY winners to be revealed on Saturday
Leftovers are everywhere. Check the fridge, where there still might be just a tad of Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings to pick over for the next week of meals. And check the Hot Stove of Major League Baseball, where plenty of unfinished business figures to warm our hearts all the way through the holiday season.
The week ahead is full steam ahead when it comes to baseball transactions, rumors and offseason honors. Monday brings about December, a month that's packed with hardball happenings that will likely go a long way toward determining who will be the last team standing next October.
The first order of official business comes Tuesday, also known as the "tender deadline" date, or, in simpler terms, the last day for teams to offer -- or tender -- contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
This means some high-quality players might be "non-tendered," or cut loose to become immediate free agents. It could be because their current teams' rosters don't have room for their roles. It could be that the projected payroll sent down by the front office doesn't hold room for said players' projected salaries. It could be the mutual agreement to give a guy a fresh start somewhere else.
And it's always intriguing.
Already, speculation is swirling as to who might be non-tendered, because this list has included some big names in the past. The most famous example of that would be David Ortiz, the left-handed-hitting first baseman/designated hitter on the Minnesota Twins who didn't quit fit with his team's plans 12 years ago and was non-tendered, signed to a one-year, $1 million deal in Boston, and helped redefine Red Sox history.
And Big Papi's not the only one who helped clubs reach new heights after being plucked off the non-tender heap. Other significant players who have been non-tendered in previous years include Jayson Werth, Edwin Encarnacion, Jonny Gomes, Chris Capuano, Bobby Jenks and many more.
"There are a lot of reasons why a guy might get non-tendered," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "But just like with exploring trades or free agency, you go into it with an open mind. There could be guys waiting to resurface as quality players, or guys who just happen to be the right fit on other clubs. That's one of the challenges of this job."
Speculation on who might be non-tendered this week has included the names Dayan Viciedo, Yonder Alonso, Alexi Ogando, Esmil Rogers, David Hernandez, Mitch Moreland, Travis Wood, Jhoulys Chacin, Travis Ishikawa and A.J. Ellis.
But prior to Tuesday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline, all it is speculation.
Then again, even if the non-tender deadline comes and goes with little sizzle, chances are bigger deals will get done soon … maybe even this week.
The Winter Meetings don't take place until next week in San Diego, but there are quite a few huge-name free agents still out there and serious trade talks brewing. The three top starting pitchers on the free-agent market -- Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields -- still haven't signed. The same goes for impact position players Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Nick Markakis and Chase Headley, starters Francisco Liriano, Jason Hammel, Brandon McCarthy, Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana, and relievers Andrew Miller, David Robertson, Sergio Romo and Francisco Rodriguez.
We still don't know what might happen to potential free-agent Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda. We won't know if players all over the trade rumors -- Matt Kemp, Yoenis Cespedes, Jeff Samardzija and many others, for example -- will get dealt soon. But if history is any indication, teams won't necessarily wait until the Winter Meetings to make bold moves.
MLB will make some bold moves this week, too.
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network and at MLB.com, MLB's A-listers will take home 2014 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 25 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, bounceback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top regular-season play, outfield throw, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment, postseason storyline, postseason walk-off and postseason play. Fans can watch these and more by accessing MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In other words, baseball fans have a strong appetite even after Thanksgiving. And the winter feasting is just getting started.